Two 1948 kitchens in Mary and Duane’s time capsule house


1948 kitchenMary and Duane’s 1948 time capsule house is a sweet little Cape Cod. Quintessentially post-war New England, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a Royal Barry Wills. I need to go through all my books and see if I can find the plan — wouldn’t that be something? Oh. I’m writing about the kitchens. Yes: This house may be small — but this house is mighty! There is an original kitchen downstairs… and a second equally useful kitchen upstairs. Both have original vintage steel cabinets — and more. 

The main kitchen downstairs:

The downstairs kitchen is most notable for its fantastic stainless steel combination countertop + double sinks + backsplash. This must have been SOMETHING back in the day! Remember, the original owner was a plumbing contractor, we are told, so we see lots of little extra something in this house. 

This is my third story on Mary and Duane’s house. The other two:

The original metal cabinets remain. I can’t identify the maker on sight, I might be able to find these in my vintage marketing materials. Don’t hold your breath, though, my piles have piles. 

No more photos of this kitchen. The rest of the space is taken up by a small kitchen table ‘where I’m standing while taking this photo’. As you can see, the original flooring is still in place, and the stove and refrigerator have been updated.

But wait til you see…

The upstairs kitchen: 

Above: An original steel sink cabinet unit with dual-drainboard enameled sink. 

To the left of the sink, a vintage Universal stove!

To the right of the sink: A cute little vintage GE refrigerator.

To the right of the refrigerator, there’s a door to storage in the attic eaves. But lookie close: There’s a can opener attached to the door frame!

Photo dump:

Note: A while back, I did a lot of research going through brochures. The most popular color for countertops in the 1940s, I decided: Black. These countertops are some sort of plastic or vinyl or… ? … mashup. They are not laminate.

Floor is original. Molly let me help her choose colors for new paint in various parts of the house. In this room, I recommended a beige that was found in the floor tile (she wanted something neutral). The new color looks very nice!

Bonus photos: Vintage Maytag in the mudroom downstairs. Doggonit: Even the washers were prettier back then!

  1. Amber Dawn says:

    My kitchen is from 1948, but was updated in the 60’s. We assume that the original floor laminate was a VERY interesting, almost rainbow-colored design that we still have in the cabinets. It’s so different that I don’t even know what to call the pattern.


    Note that the big black areas on the bottom shelf are not part of the design, but instead where the top layer has worn away revealing a rubber-like base. There is, however, a bit of black (and a lot more grey) mixed in with the original design, seen mostly in tact on the top shelf.

    It tested negative for Asbestos. I don’t want to peel it up again to double check, but I remember it saying “Congoleum-Nairn” on the bottom. It is most likely from when the house was built in 1948.

      1. Amber Dawn says:

        Is “Needle in a haystack” the name of that type of pattern, or the nature of my search???

        That laminate is the reason I discovered this website, which was the reason we had it tested for asbestos. From what I read, it was a surprise to find it was negative!

    1. Alison says:

      Sue K., I have heard of Richlite, I believe many school science classrooms have it in the lab areas. May I ask, what did you use it for other than counters?

      1. Sue K. says:

        Although I LOVE mid-century modern, not having the fortitude as some of you guys to undertake a renovation of an original 40’s-50’s home, we built a ‘modernist’ style house when we downsized. We used black Richlite as a back splash in the kitchen and also on some walls as an accent. (With maple cabinetry.) Thanks for asking! 🙂

  2. Alison says:

    My sister’s house in Seattle circa 1948 also had two kitchens originally, upstairs and down. The original owners lived in the semi-daylight basement and rented out the upstairs. I don’t know how that worked for zoning or code compliance because the downstairs didn’t originally have large enough windows in the bedrooms for fire egress, but it sure was frugal!

  3. Jeannie says:

    I agree the black countertop material was most likely linoleum. Real linoleum will self-heal small knife nicks, and is antibacterial.

    Amber Dawn’s flooring is almost certainly felt-base. This was invented as a cheaper knockoff of linoleum, made from asphalt.
    Here’s a Popular Science article explaining the manufacturing process of both; the article was coincidentally written in 1948:


    1. Amber Dawn says:

      I bet you’re right! Underneath the thin layer of color is a black rubbery layer, and I think the bottom was vaguely felt-like when we lifted a piece to send off for asbestos testing.

      The only thing is that the original owners spared no expense when it came to the quality of their materials….but we were told that the kitchen floor has hardwood underneath, so maybe they never used this for flooring and only used it for lining the cabinets??

      I can’t tell if our countertops are from 1948 or if they were updated in the 60’s with the kitchen remodel, but if I had to bet I’d say it’s from the 60’s. It’s white with light mint green squigglies. I will probably always wonder if the countertops matched the inside of the cabinets, but I would think it would be a bit too much color even for a post-war kitchen. Not sure if it would be too much color for ME, though. I kinda love it and wish I had more.

  4. Helen Rubeo says:

    I’m pretty sure all the cabinets are General Electric. I have both in my old kitchen. I identified them by the drawer pulls. Inside, the original labels identify them as such.

Leave a Reply

Commenting: Information

All comments are moderated, generally within 24 hours. By using this website you are agreeing to the site's >> Terms of Service, << which include commenting policies, and our >> Privacy Notice. << Before participating, read them in full.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.